RBS bank returns to profit in Q1, preparing for privatization

BY    2013-05-05 10:15:29

  LONDON, May 3 (Xinhua) -- British state-supported Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) returned to profit in the first quarter of this year, the first profitable quarter since 2011, the bank said on Friday.

  RBS, with an 82-percent stake owned by taxpayers, reported net earnings of 393 million pounds (611 million U.S. dollars) for the first quarter.

  It generated pre-tax profit of 826 million pounds in the January-March period and operating profit of 829 million pounds, up from 553 million pounds in the last quarter of 2012.

  RBS said its profit after tax for the first quarter of this year compared with a net loss of 1.5 billion pounds in the first quarter of 2012, when the value of the bank's outstanding debt had significantly increased.

  "These results show pleasing progress in delivering a strong and valuable RBS for all our stakeholders. We expect to substantially complete the bank's restructuring phase during 2014," said RBS chairman Philip Hampton.

  "We are seeing the start of a pick-up in loan demand and have a strong surplus of funds ready and available to fully support economic recovery."

  In a video statement posted on the bank website, Hampton signalled the British government was preparing to sell off part of the taxpayer's stake in the bank next year.

  He said the bank could be ready for sale from the middle of 2014 or even earlier.

  "Across the group we are working hard to improve what we do for customers and to better position the bank for future growth," Hampton said.

  The Edinburgh-based bank was bailed out in the wake of the 2008 global financial crisis with 45.5 billion pounds of taxpayers' cash, making it the world's biggest banking bailout.

  It is reported that the British government is stepping up efforts to get ready for a reprivatization of RBS and Lyoyds Banking Group before the next election. (1 pound = 1.55 U.S. dollars)

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